This week’s episode of the PBS series, “Finding Your Roots,” includes some firsts for the show. The rapper Nas will be featured as he traces his ancestory back through slavery. Regarding Nas’ appearance and the historic episode, host Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. points out, “We introduced Nas to five generations – we’ve never been able to do this before for any African American – five generations of his enslaved ancestors…And we showed him an extremely rare document, something we’d never seen before, an actual 1859 bill of sale for his 3rd great grandmother whose name was Pocahontas Little.”
In the two-minute preview of the episode, Nas is confronted with a picture of the white man who owned and enslaved his ancestors, Benjamin Franklin Little. Little purchased Nas’s great great great grandmother Pocahontas in 1859 when she was 15-years-old. Nas is visibly upset as he views the bill of sale for her purchase for less than $900 and other historical documentation that includes old pictures of his family. Check out the video to hear about what Nas has planned for the land that was once owned by Little.
Professor Gates says the historical documents also had a profound impact on him as well: “Seeing Nas’s 3rd great grandmother’s actual bill of sale. You know, it was eerie. It moved me to tear up to think of a human being. It’s one thing to say out ancestors were all slaves, but to see the bill of sale where two people are bargaining for someone who happens to be your blood ancestor, that’s heavy.
This week’s episode will also include actress Angela Bassett who is able to trace her ancestory from slavery through emancipation as well as Valerie Jarrett. Jarrett is President Obama’s senior advisor and learns that her great-grandfather was the first Black person to graduate from MIT and when on to become an accomplished architect who helped build the Tuskegee Institute. The episode premieres October 28th on PBS.